Let’s call out selfish drivers

Video surveillance in Dubai Mall will target able-bodied drivers who park in spaces allocated for the disabled. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Video surveillance in Dubai Mall will target able-bodied drivers who park in spaces allocated for the disabled. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Look around you, next time you’re out and about. Parking spaces for disabled drivers are clearly marked and they are sensibly located right near the entrance to nearly every building and shopping mall in the UAE. This is heartening, as the country works towards becoming more inclusive.

What is much less encouraging is reports of the misuse of “disabled only” parking spaces by able-bodied drivers. There are thousands of anecdotal accounts for Abu Dhabi. And Dubai Police has got the figures – 36,358 offences related to disabled-parking spots over the past four years and nearly 5,000 recorded instances of motorists parking in front of fire hydrants and in disabled and ambulance spaces in the first five months of this year.

This is appalling. For an able-bodied person to ignore the sign that says “disabled only” and park in a choice spot or fraudulently save a few dirhams is selfish in the extreme. It is also insensitive to people with special needs, who are entitled to a bit of extra help as they go about their daily lives. It is extraordinary that complaints and the possibility of being fined anywhere to Dh1,000 and been given four black points seem to have little effect on the selfish appropriation of space meant for those who need it.

The situation might improve if Dubai Police’s plans go well. As The National reported yesterday, Dubai Police is planning to install parking monitors equipped with video cameras in mall parking areas designated for disabled drivers.

The initiative began last month with the installation of the Moraqeb monitors in Dubai Mall. It is meant to deter motorists who use disabled parking without being entitled to it or misuse disability stickers to park in those spaces even when a disabled person is not in the car at a particular point of time. Video cameras are good but they cannot be enough. The mindset has to change, as Safia Bari, of the Special Needs Future Development Centre, has said. This means making the able-bodied understand – and respect – why these spots are reserved for the disabled in the first place

Published: December 25, 2014 04:00 AM

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